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C 340 E/212 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 4.12.


This is even more important if one considers that effective protection of marine biodiversity requires an
integrated strategy in order to confront the many pressures with which it is threatened. The development
of such a strategy, which is based on broad cooperation with other parties, and the use of appropriate
scientific tools, is already considered to be a priority by the Commission (2).

(1) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora
(OJ L 206, 22.7.1992). As amended by the Act of Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden (OJ L 1, 1.1.1995).
(2) Communication from the Commission on the sixth programme for Community action on the environment 
Proposal for a European Parliament and Council decision introducing the Community action programme on the
environment for 2001-2010, COM(2001) 31 final.

(2001/C 340 E/243) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1279/01

by Pere Esteve (ELDR) to the Commission

(19 April 2001)

Subject: Substitute for feedingstuffs containing animal protein

In view of the need to change animal feed as a consequence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)
and find a substitute for MBM (meat and bone meal), and given the possibility in the countries of the
European Union for the satisfactory cultivation of oilseeds and protein crops (alfalfa, rape, peas and other
crops), which require little water and would provide a useful source of vegetable protein, what action will
the EU take to promote these crops and thus help make vegetable protein available in Europe for the
production of animal feed, thereby reducing Europe’s heavy dependency on third countries?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(8 June 2001)

The Honourable Member is requested to refer to the Commission’s communication to Parliament and the
Council (1) ‘Options to promote the cultivation of plant proteins in the EU’, which is based on a working
paper (2).

(1) COM(2001) 148 final.

(2) SEC(2001) 431.

(2001/C 340 E/244) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1282/01

by Theresa Villiers (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 May 2001)

Subject: Property taxation

Speaking at a Belgian Presidency tax seminar on 26 March 2001, the Director-General for Taxation and
the Customs Union, Michel Vanden Abeele, suggested that there was an ‘intermediate zone’ where there is
currently no tax harmonisation but where the need for harmonisation could be discussed, such as
company taxation, which the Commission was actively looking at, and also property taxation.

1. What steps has the Commission taken so far in order to consider whether there is a need for
harmonisation of property taxes?

2. Has the Commission followed up the study performed for the Commission by Arthur Anderson,
‘Study on the application of Value Added Tax to the property sector’ (N XXI/96/CB-3021) and if so, what
conclusions has it drawn?
4.12.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 340 E/213

3. If the Commission is considering the need for harmonisation of property taxation, could it indicate
precisely which areas it is looking at? Is the Commission primarily concerned with the VAT system and
VAT rates on building land, supplies of new buildings or renovation and repairs, for example, or is it also
considering harmonisation of levies of real estate transfer taxes or stamp duties? What does the
Commission believe is the best way to proceed with property taxation?

4. The study by Arthur Anderson identified some problem areas and perceived distortions in the UK.
On VAT provisions the study found numerous problems of interpretation involving provisions on
protected buildings, relevant charitable buildings and rent adjustments on disposal of buildings, for
example. It also perceived a distortion under the ‘option to tax’ regime, whereby a landlord has to opt to
tax all leases in a building or none of them. Has the Commission considered any of these problem areas or
perceived distortions, and would they fall under the scope of any Commission proposals in this field?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(14 June 2001)

In his contribution to the seminar on the 2001 Belgian Presidency, on 26 March 2001, the Director-
General for Taxation and the Customs Union stated that ‘an intermediate zone, in which some
coordination is needed, concerns direct taxation applied to highly mobile tax bases, such as company
taxation and capital taxation’ (translation of the French text of the transparency he used).

In his oral presentation, in French, Mr Vanden Abeele used the words ‘taxation mobilière’ (taxation of
movable assets), not ‘taxation immobilière’ (taxation of immovable assets, or property taxation).

Property taxation was not mentioned. The Commission has no intention of carrying out any
harmonisation of direct taxation, although as part of a system of VAT taxation at source, which remains
our long-term objective, Community rules on VAT applicable to the property sector would, of course,
need to be revised.

As to the study conducted by Arthur Andersen to which the Honourable Member refers, the Commission
takes the view that the results do not make the case for the need for legal initiatives in the short term to
modernise and simplify the existing VAT system. This view is supported by reactions from representatives
of the sector concerned.

The transparencies used in the presentation have been sent directly to the Honourable Member and
Parliament’s General Secretariat.

(2001/C 340 E/245) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1287/01

by Theresa Villiers (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 May 2001)

Subject: Taxation Policy Group

1. Could the Commission please state what was discussed at the meeting of the Taxation Policy Group
on 16 March 2001, and what was discussed at any meetings held between 2 March 2000 and 16 March

2. What future meetings of the Taxation Policy Group have been scheduled, and what matters are due
to be discussed at upcoming meetings?